"I felt like a champion of Europe long before the game was finished," José Mourinho told UEFA.com as he looked back on FC Porto's 2003/04 final win against AS Monaco FC.
Article top media content
UEFA Cup winners the previous season, FC Porto followed up that success with a 3-0 UEFA Champions League final triumph over AS Monaco FC in 2003/04, though coach José Mourinho told UEFA.com the hard work was done long before that Gelsenkirchen climax.
Having progressed alongside Real Madrid CF's 'galácticos' in the group stage and eliminated Manchester United FC in the last 16, Mourinho said his side felt they could do no wrong. "We went to the Bernabéu and drew, we left with a sweet feeling," he recalled. "A few days later there was the draw – and Manchester United. We went to Manchester and that's history now: in the 90th minute we were behind, we scored in the 91st minute and we qualified. When we qualified at Old Trafford we felt that if we could eliminate Manchester United, we could eliminate any team."
Olympique Lyonnais and RC Deportivo La Coruña endured the force of Porto's momentum in the following rounds, and, for all their eye-catching form, Monaco too succumbed to goals from Carlos Alberto (39), Deco (71) and Dmitri Alenichev (75) in the final.
"We felt it couldn't go wrong," Mourinho continued. "We made it and we won very calmly. I always say I didn't celebrate it like a Champions League final, because it didn't feel like a Champions League final – the game was very calm and controlled. I didn't feel like a European champion after the referee blew the final whistle: I felt like a champion of Europe long before the game was finished."